In a perfect world, all check-ins at Airbnbs around the world would go 100% smoothly. But sometimes travel plans change last minute, correspondence gets lost in translation, and even something so seemingly simple as getting the keys to the place can be a challenge. Some of these hiccups are unavoidable, but thankfully there are ways to work through them and ensure an excellent welcome for your guests.

Follow these pointers for a flawless check-in experience, and chances are that your welcome will result in rave reviews for all the Airbnb community to see.

Communicate check-in plans from the start

Nothing can set off a traveler’s anxiety worse than a snag right at the start of their stay. An Airbnb guest is usually traveling far from home so it’s important that you stay in touch with them from the time you accept their reservation to the moment they step across your threshold. This way you can reassure them that a great trip awaits, and you get to know their travel plans so you can personalize their experience. A great check-in really boils down to clear communication between host and guest.

  • Agree on mode of communication. Having so many ways to communicate (email, text, website, phone) can be a blessing and a curse. Airbnb offers several options for hosts and guests to contact each other, but we recommend sticking with the method you’re both comfortable with, and—in the spirit of travel—one that’s mobile-friendly.
  • Emphasize the importance of pre-arrival communication. Your guest should provide arrival details. If they haven’t, remind them that they need to so you can best be ready to welcome them.
  • Set expectations. Some guests, especially first-timers, might think Airbnb is the same as staying at a hotel. Help them understand it isn’t by explicitly emphasizing it’s your private space they will be staying in and it needs to be respected accordingly. Make sure your House Rules are clear and reiterate any important points in your communications. Read more about setting guest expectations.

Unlock an amazing stay

We’ve learned from hosts and guests alike that exchanging keys can offer its own set of problems and anxieties. Maybe a host mailed the keys to a guest and they didn’t arrive in time. Perhaps a guest didn’t receive the email or text that the host hid the keys under the enormous Ming vase replica on their porch.

Most hosts prefer to deliver the keys in person. If this includes you, you understand the importance of knowing your guest’s arrival time so you can be present to greet them or make alternative arrangements if the guest’s flight is delayed.

But even hosts who prefer to meet guests personally can’t always be there. Here are some time-saving and simple check-in options that we see hosts using around the world when you’re not there to hand over the keys in person:

  • The almighty lockbox. It’s available at most hardware stores, affordable, and a breeze to install. Just be sure to let your guest know well ahead of time where the lockbox is located.
  • Shhhh…secret hiding spot. The romantic in us is a sucker for designating a secret spot for hiding keys. Who doesn’t like a treasure hunt? The person who doesn’t find the treasure, that’s who—so be absolutely certain your guest will be able to locate the key, even in the dark.
  • Door code or e-lock. All a host has to do is email or text the code, and the lucky guest gets to travel key-free. If you use an e-lock that is opened by a mobile app, be sure your guest’s phone is compatible—and have a backup option.
  • The trusted neighbor. Many hosts who can’t be there in person to welcome a guest will ask a trusted neighbor to hold the key. Others point their guests to local cafes or shops where the key will be waiting behind the counter—plus guests just might spend some of their travel money at your favorite local businesses.

What are your ways of ensuring guest check-in goes swimmingly? Send us your suggestions!